"Shut Up Little Man!" is a documentary about a phenomenon that spread virally via dubbed cassette tapes sent primarily by mail. In terms of the current concept of "viral," it might as well be about the Pony Express.

“Shut Up Little Man!” is a documentary about a phenomenon that spread virally via dubbed cassette tapes sent primarily by mail. In terms of the current concept of “viral,” it might as well be about the Pony Express.

When friends Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitchell D. moved into a crappy San Francisco apartment after college, they were treated to the arguments of their drunken elderly neighbors, Peter and Raymond, courtesy of some paper-thin walls.

After sleepless nights and numerous complaints, Eddie and Mitchell choose to embrace the absurdity of their situation. They begin clandestinely taping the neighbors’ fights, compiling recordings that would eventually find their way around the country.

If, like me, you weren’t privy to this particular pop-culture sensation, the introduction is fascinating and intensely funny — for a while, at least.

The bizarre world of Peter and Raymond seems to consist of all-day drinking followed by evening screaming matches.

Trying to piece together this relationship from audio snippets is a bizarre charm. It’s when the film strays that it fails.

It loses steam when it moves toward the legal debates over the recordings. And it never quite delivers on some tantalizing promises of resolution of Peter and Raymond’s story.

The first 45 minutes are great; it’s the rest that doesn’t hold up.